If you’re struggling with sleep, acupuncture can be a useful tool.
Insomnia is very common. One out of three Americans experience one or more symptoms of insomnia. While you may not be experiencing chronic insomnia- no restorative sleep for at least three nights a week for one month or longer- trouble sleeping can still affect your daily life. You could be experiencing problems sleeping for a number of reasons, such as stress, anxiety, medications and physical conditions.
In some cases, insomnia is caused by a medical condition such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or chronic pain, or by a mental health disorder such as depression. You may need to consult with your physician to treat one of these underlying conditions. These conditions may interact with one another. For example, treating insomnia may help depression symptoms improve faster.
Alternative approaches like acupuncture and laser therapy are great options to consider to help you improve your sleep.
Why getting enough sleep is important
Not getting quality sleep can lead to substantial impairments in quality of life. In addition, insufficient sleep is linked to many other health issues including:
– Mental: more prone to depression and anxiety
– Respiratory: more likely to catch a cold
– Cardiovascular: higher blood pressure and likelihood of a heart attack
– Metabolic: more likely to gain weight and have diabetes risk
Improvements to sleep; Acupuncture’s role
In many cases, Western medicine treats insomnia with drugs. However, long-term use of these drugs often carry side effects that are difficult for patients, like headache, dizziness, dry mouth, and abnormal taste. By contrast, acupuncture has few side effects.
In research studies, participants report feeling more relaxed and less anxious, which may encourage falling asleep more easily. Acupuncture has also been shown to help manage sleep apnea, some speculate perhaps because it strengthens the tongue and prevents it from dropping back during the night and blocking your airway.
In treating patients who are struggling with insomnia, many fall asleep during their appointments, after receiving acupuncture. We jokingly refer to this as “acubliss.”
Low-level Laser Therapy can help too
For those who aren’t as keen on needles, low-level laser therapy is an excellent alternative. Laser can simulate the effects of acupuncture without needles and even fewer side effects.
One research study evaluated the effectiveness of laser therapy for patients with chronic insomnia. Participants who received laser experienced significant improvements in how long it took to fall asleep, number of awakenings at night, and the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed.
For either acupuncture or laser, while patients should experience better sleep the day of the treatment, they should also expect to pursue a series of treatments over time for maximum benefit.
Tips to supplement treatments
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the movement from day to night is the motion of Yin and Yang expanding and contracting. As the day turns to night, Yang transitions to Yin. Adjusting your actions can help your body transition and improve your sleep. Here are some things you can try:
- Quiet the mind
- Watch what you eat
- Exercise in the morning, not at night
- Try a warm foot bath
- Wind down your day